The Hateful Eight Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir The Weinstein Company
Rated R | 187/167 Minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2015
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), The Hateful Eight is an ambitious Western that deals in deceit, betrayal, and buckets of bad blood.
In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is escorting fugitive Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock, where she will hang for murder. Along the way, they encounter a gunslinger named Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a southern renegade who claims to be the town’s new Sheriff.
A blizzard forces the quartet to take shelter at a stagecoach stopover called Minnie’s Haberdashery where they encounter four strangers: Bob “The Mexican” (Demian Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and ex-Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside shanty, the eight unsavory strangers realize they may not make it to Red Rock after all.
The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is an amalgam of his last film, Django Unchained, and his first, the 1992 crime-thriller Reservoir Dogs. In Dogs, eight men are caught up in a diamond heist gone bad. After a deadly shootout with the cops, the surviving thieves rendezvous at an empty warehouse where they discover one of their own is an undercover police officer.
In The Hateful Eight, an octet of scoundrels is stranded at a homely hideout. But, as Kurt Russell’s John Ruth points out, “One of them fellas is not what he says he is.” Instead of diamonds, the prize is Domergue, a black-eyed bitch with a $10,000 bounty on her head. As the storm rages on outside, allegiances are made, lies and deceits are spread, the coffee is poisoned, and trust is nowhere to be found.
For over a decade now, Tarantino’s films have been stylish revenge fantasies. In Kill Bill, The Bride is on a mission to kill the man who did her wrong. In Death Proof, a female foursome hunts down their would-be murderer and teaches him a thing or two. In Inglourious Bastards, Jewish-American soldiers kill Hitler, and in Django Unchained, a freed slave seeks retribution against the white man.
The Hateful Eight isn’t out for blood, it’s more concerned with human nature – the ugliest, most loathsome parts of it. Like Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown, Eight is about liars and thieves – con men caught up in their own confidence games. Tarantino’s latest is about what extreme circumstances (and harsh conditions) do to people and the shifting nature of loyalty and betrayal.
With fantastic performances from a legendary ensemble, The Hateful Eight is perhaps Tarantino’s most satisfying work since 1997’s Jackie Brown. From costuming to production design, to the tense and haunting score by Ennio Morricone, the craft of Tarantino’s latest is flawless. Understated and excessive, The Hateful Eight is motivated by a righteous love of cinema that is infectious; wildly entertaining and entirely absorbing.
Russell, Leigh, and Jackson deliver memorable turns, but it’s Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified) who steals the show as Sheriff Chris Mannix. A racist Southern rebel, Mannix is easily the most hateful of the eight. Add to it the fact that he’s somehow weaseled his way into becoming the sheriff of Red Rock, and you’ve got a healthy dose of social commentary steeped in Tarantino’s trademark subversive style. Goggins deftly balances the character’s inherent sleaziness with charm, humor, and surprising integrity to make what would otherwise be a one-note scumbag a three-dimensional character worth investing in.
The “Roadshow Release” is filmed on glorious Ultra Panavision 70, which uses anamorphic lenses to create a stunning aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Ultra Panavision 70 was used on only a handful of films, including Mutiny on the Bounty, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Battle of the Bulge. Here, 70mm captures the bleak, wintry Western landscape beautifully, with the sweeping scope of epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur.
The widescreen experience enriches the mystery once the eight strangers converge inside of Minnie’s Haberdashery. Tarantino and his cinematographer Robert Richardson fill the frame with all eight characters, allowing you to pick up certain nuances of each character and study their expressions. It’s a deadly game, attempting to uncover the motivations of these dangerous players, and Tarantino puts you right in the middle of their uneasy allegiances.
Full of grit and gunpowder, The Hateful Eight is one of the finest films of 2015. It’s the kind of film that reminds us of the power of seeing movies on the big screen; a religious experience for those who still hold faith in the transportive and reinvigorating art of cinema.
The 187-minute 70mm “Roadshow Release” of The Hateful Eight opens in select cities on Christmas Day. The 167-minute DCP (digital cinema package) version opens in wide release on New Year’s Day. For a list of theaters, visit the film’s website.